Blackhawks trade Patrick Sharp to Dallas Stars


Blackhawks trade Patrick Sharp to Dallas Stars

Patrick Sharp was an integral part of the Blackhawks, a player the team acquired when it was still trying to find its new identity and years before it found its constant success.

Now he’s part of their glorious recent past.

The Blackhawks traded Sharp and defenseman Stephen Johns to the Dallas Stars in exchange for defenseman Trevor Daley and forward Ryan Garbutt. The move clears some cap space for the Blackhawks, who now have about $70.4 million committed to 21 players. Sharp has two years remaining on his contract, which carries a cap hit of $5.9 million per season. Johns is in the final year of a deal paying him $800,000. The Blackhawks take Daley’s contract (two more years at a cap hit of $3.3 million a season) and half of Garbutt’s ($900,000 cap hit each of the next two years). 

But this isn’t just what the Blackhawks lost money-wise with Sharp. While it’s no surprise he was dealt, Sharp and his contributions that led to three Stanley Cups in the past six seasons will be missed. His past season wasn’t his best — 16 goals and 27 assists in 68 games — but he’s nevertheless had a lot of great individual seasons. He recorded 34 goals in 2010-11 and 2013-14 (two goals shy of his career best 36 set in the 2007-08 season).

[MORE: Trevor van Riemsdyk signs two-year extension with Blackhawks]

General manager Stan Bowman had been working for some time to get a deal done.

“It’s difficult trying to find a trading partner. You have a need they have and a player they like and they have the cap space to do what you’re trying to do,” Bowman said. “There have been countless phone calls over the past three weeks, this one finally made sense.”

Bowman said he talked to Sharp on Friday.

“More so than anything, [I] just thanked him for everything he’s done of the organization over the years,” Bowman said via conference call. “We’ve been through a lot together. He came when our team wasn’t at the level it was at in recent years and he played a big part in getting us to that next level. It was a great ride alongside Patrick and I wished him well.”

Bowman was also not concerned about trading assets to the Stars, who are in the same division.

“It cuts both ways,” Bowman said. “Dallas is giving us two of theirs to play against their team. I don’t know if that’s something you can pay too much attention to. You have to do what’s best for your team and not be as fixated on what they’re doing. Does this make sense for your team?”

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A message left with Sharp on Friday night was not immediately returned. Two days after winning the Cup, Sharp talked of his trying year, on and off the ice, and how the Blackhawks banded together to win again.

“I blocked out a lot of things out this year,” Sharp said on June 17. “I thought it was pretty unfair to hear some of the stuff I was hearing about myself and my teammates but that’s the kind of group we have: we stuck together and got it done.

“To win a third Stanley Cup in this city is something that I’ll always remember,” Sharp continued. “It’s pretty special. It’s a huge accomplishment.”


Trey Burton, Adrian Amos earn Bears’ top grades from Pro Football Focus for Week 7


Trey Burton, Adrian Amos earn Bears’ top grades from Pro Football Focus for Week 7

The Bears were not at their best against the New England Patriots on Sunday. They made plenty of mistakes on all three phases and gave Tom Brady too many opportunities to control the game.

It wasn’t all bad from Chicago, though. Trey Burton emerged as a new favorite weapon of Mitchell Trubisky, and the tight end was the Bears’ highest-graded player in the game by Pro Football Focus.

Burton had a career high 11 targets, nine catches and 126 yards with a touchdown, giving Trubisky a 144.7 passer rating when targeting his top tight end.

Seven of Burton’s targets and six of his catches traveled 10 or more yards in the air, according to PFF.

Defensively, safety Adrian Amos led the pack with a 74.6 overall grade. He did not miss a tackle after missing a career-high five last week, and he allowed only one catch for eight yards against the Patriots.

On the bottom of the scale, outside linebacker Leonard Floyd received the second-lowest grade of his career (38.9 overall) for his performance. He did not record any pressure on the quarterback in 13 pass rushing snaps, and he allowed two catches for 13 yards and a touchdown in coverage against running back James White.

Wide receiver Allen Robinson had a career-low grade as well at 44.9 overall. He was clearly limited by his groin injury, targeted five times with one catch for four yards and a dropped pass.

Overall, the Bears were able to stick with one of the top teams in the AFC while also leaving a lot of room for improvement. It’s a step in the right direction from where Chicago was in recent seasons.

Wendell Carter Jr. survives gauntlet of centers to begin career


Wendell Carter Jr. survives gauntlet of centers to begin career

Don't tell Wendell Carter Jr. the center position is a dying breed.

The 19-year-old rookie hasn't exactly been able to ease into the NBA, finding himself up against a handful of All-Stars and powerful frontcourts just five days into his career.

It culminated Monday night with a date against Mavericks center DeAndre Jordan, and once again the seventh overall pick held his own. It was much of the same as it was against Philadelphia's Joel Embiid and Detroit's Andre Drummond last week (and Nikola Jokic in the preseason finale): some good, some bad, plenty of poise and zero backing down. The NBA is unforgiving, but this could very well be the toughest stretch Carter faces all season.

"He’s playing against top level centers now," Fred Hoiberg said before Monday's game. "It’s a great experience for him. He’s going to learn and get better and he plays within himself, we will continue to look for him to be more aggressive."

He was as aggressive as the Bulls have seen him against Jordan and the Mavericks. He blew by the 20 and 18 minutes he played in the first two games of the year, totalling 32 minutes. His final line won't tell the story - 4 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and a block - of a Carter who defended well at the rim, picking and choosing his spots on when to attack shots and when to simply use his verticality.

He wasn't credited for a block but he contested a Jordan dunk that turned into a Bobby Portis dunk on the other end. Plus-minus isn't always a good indicator of a player's worth, but Carter was a +5 in a 14-point Bulls loss. He even attempted a corner 3-pointer early in the shot clock, showing no hesitation. Carter's had his moments, but it's also apparent he's got a 19-year-old body going up against veterans each night. That'll come with time in the weight room. For now the experience is 

"I appreciate the fact I’m able to play against these very talented bigs early in my career," Carter said after the loss to the Pistons. "What I need to work on is I have to get stronger; that’s the first thing I recognize; just being up against the best. I love the competition. It’s always a great feeling going against the best."

What the Bulls are finding out is they have a player mature beyond his years. As he progresses he'll continue to get more difficult assignments. He had his rookie moment late in Monday's loss, committing a turnover in the backcourt after the Bulls had cut the deficit to five with 35 seconds left. The fouls are also an issue, as Carter has committed 10 in three games (after committing 17 in five preseason games).

That doesn't necessarily seem important for a Lottery-bound team, but considering the continued struggles of Robin Lopez (and Cristiano Felicio is entirely out of the rotation) it is. Lopez had 2 points and 1 rebound in 10 minutes while committing five personal fouls. In three games he has 11 personal fouls and 11 points, and also has more turnovers (five) than rebounds (four). If the Bulls are going to compete until Lauri Markkanen returns, Carter will need to hover around the 32 minutes he played Monday.

He'll get a much easier test on Wednesday when the Charlotte Hornets arrive in town. Cody Zeller doesn't exactly have the credentials of a Jokic or Embiid, meaning Carter may have a little more room to work. 

The Bulls know they have something in Carter. It'll be abother month until they can deploy him alongside Markkanen, but if the first three games are any indication, Carter won't have any problems matching up with some of the league's best.